A dispute that began at a back-yard club in Sampson County ended with a high speed chase, a gun battle and a wreck, sending five people to the hospital, at least one critically so and two of them innocent travelers caught up in the melee.
Details remain sketchy as police work to identify the suspects and piece together the events that led up to the early morning incident, said to have started in the city limits just after 4 a.m. Officers believe the dispute began at the club and continued during a chase between two vehicles along N.C. 24 that moved into the city limits. Gunshots were reportedly exchanged during the chase.
According to a press release issued by the Clinton Police Department, Ray and Cassandera Cuvilje of Harrells were travelling N.C. 24 (Sunset Avenue) west near Westover Road when it was rear-ended by one of the suspect vehicles, forcing it into a telephone pole and causing it to overturn. They’ve been taken to Sampson Regional Medical Center where they were being treated for injuries sustained in the wreck. Neither, officers said, had sustained gunshot wounds.
One of the vehicles, an Accura Legend, is the one that struck Cuvilje’s Ford 150 truck, causing massive front end damage to the car and causing it to be disabled across two-lanes of travel on N.C. 24
The other vehicle in the chase, a white Pontiac, stopped after the collision, and several more gunshots were exchanged between the occupants in the Pontiac and those in the Accura in the middle of Sunset Avenue. The Pontiac fled the scene before police arrived. Police have since located and seized the Pontiac, discovered in the Roseboro area shortly before noon.
Three occupants of the Accura, police siad, were also transported to Sampson Regional, and two of them have since been transferred to Wake Med. A fourth individual involved in the incident brought himself to the hospital sometime Monday morning. It is still unclear which vehicle he was in at the time of the incident.
Two of the four individuals had gunshot wounds, police acknowledged.
Authorities are currently trying to confirm the identities of the four individuals.
N.C. 24 (Sunset Avenue) at Faircloth Freeway remained closed to traffic around 2:30 p.m. Monday as investigators continued to scour the scene for evidence and prepare for the cleanup of all the debris scattered from near the traffic lights at the overpass to Westover Road.
Clinton police are investigating the incident, along with the State Bureau of Investigation.